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It's my understanding that the phone app works by triangulation of signals from cell towers. The GPS tracking device works with satellites. I'm sure a phone app can be very accurate riding from Boston to New York because there are always plenty of cell towers. But I live in Colorado. Cell coverage is spotty because of the mountains. That would especially be true if I were ridding over mountain passes and through canyons. I might get good enough reception to make a mediocre call but would I get the triangulation to pin point my location as I ride?
Has anyone used these phone apps in the mountains or far from cities?

Another question about the phone apps: is there a monthly fee? How much?
Phone app is the best choice for most people, it uses GPS Satellites and Wifi and Cell towers to pin point your location.

The most accurate is wifi and cell and satellite in that order pretty much.
Most people do not know when it comes to tracking, satellite does NOT transmit your location so your the device NEEDS to have a cell connection or wifi connection.

Here is how it works.

1. Google has pretty much mapped the entire country with streets, also in the street information google (and others) also have recorded the names of the wifi networks in the homes (yes, including everyones home reading this forum) and businesses on all the streets in the nation and most likely a lot of the world, so when you are on any given street, google and everyone who has an enabled app on their phone, knows EXACTLY where you are anytime of the day because you are near someones wifi router!

Ok, add to this, cell tower triangulation with the wifi and you have one heck of an accurate location device. All built into an app and for the heck of it, just about EVERY app on your phone knows where you are EVERY minute of the day because we all check "OK" everytime we download an app!

2. Ok, here is where you go wrong with Satellite GPS.
Its NOT possible for satellite GPS to transmit your location to anyone unless you have a cell connection or wifi connection, so it makes the choice for you simple, get an app for your phone and it will take care of everything. You have no other choice except for option #3 which maybe important enough for you to invest.

3. In order to be completely sure you can contact someone in an emergency a satellite phone is your only option and a satellite phone or position transmitter needs to be able to transmit to satellites.
Phone run anywhere from $300 to $1000 much like a regular cell, you can also by prepaid month etc, you can also rent.
I did a quick search, also found a "tracker" on amazon ...keep in mind, even if you buy the device, you will need to pay for a service from a satellite company, no different then a cell phone company.

Hope this was some help, sounds like your in for some NICE cruising!

https://www.amazon.com/DeLorme-inReach-SE-Satellite-Tracker/dp/B00BX7TJ2O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1495199399&sr=8-4&keywords=satellite+phone

https://www.amazon.com/satellite-phone/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Asatellite%20phone

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_phone

and last, just google satellite phone service, you can even do rentals for your trip.

(oh CRAP, just spent 20 minutes replying to a TWO year old post ... *L* oh well, will leave it here)
 

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The problem with using the phone is battery life out on the road. Seems to affect some phones (Brand name) more than others. For it to work as a tracker, the location service needs to be on. So the phone queries every tower it finds along the way. Lots of towers, lots of background communication. So the phone is always doing work and using a lot of battery running the transmitter.

And some phones charge so slowly off of USB, that they can be perpetually in need of a charge, out on a trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
Cell phone batteries really die fast when you are out of coverage are. The phone uses power trying to get a signal. I always bring a battery pack charger when on the road. I let it charge while sitting in my Tour Pak.

 

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Who's used GPS tracking devices? I'm thinking about getting one and looking for feedback.
I'm not talking about the GPS mapping devices that help find where you are and where you are headed. I'm talking about a small personal tracking device.
Here's the difference: a GPS Mapping device may cost $400 and receives signals from satellites to show where you are and help you find your way.
A tracking device costs less than $100 but you need to pay for a service because it transmits your location.
As far as I know there aren't any devices that do both of these functions. Why would I want a personal tracking device? Well, one reason would be if I headed out on a long trip to visit someone I wouldn't need to stop, make a phone call, give my progress and ETA. They could just pull up a web site and find out where I am and when I should arrive.
Also I plan on taking a long motorcycle ride across the US this year. I plan on crossing about 30 states. I won't have much of a plan, although I would like to go around Lake Superior and then many of the western states. If loved ones are worried where I am and if I am still riding or crashed in a gulley or canyon they could just log in and see my progress.

Check out this page as an example: https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=4860

I plan on posting my trip on this site so you guys can see where I'm headed.

I'm thinking of getting a Spot Personal Tracker like this one:

http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=101
No experience with Spot. My personal tracker is SpyTec STI_GL300. I took it when I was traveling alone or outdoors, letting my family know where I was.

And it has the SOS button, I set up multiple emergency contacts. The battery has a battery life of two weeks, which is enough for me to reach my next destination.
 

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Sure would have saved alot of Heartache if I would have attached something like this on an old girlfriends car....
 
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